Stylish Weekend Break: Birmingham

The words 'Birmingham' and 'style' aren't usually bedfellows; but the city of Birmingham is indeed a rather stylish place.
Like all cities, Birmingham has its shabby areas; but shopping and entertainment locations such as The Mailbox and The Bullring bump up it's style rating considerably. The Mailbox is the home of luxury retailers such as Harvey Nichols and Armani; whilst The Bullring houses Selfridges alongside high-street retailers such as Debenhams.
The highlight of The Mailbox is its outdoor quayside area named Wharfside Street. Here, fabulous eateries sit side by side along the waterside.
Cote Restaurant (http://www.cote-restaurants.co.uk) is our favourite. It is part of a chain of 22 restaurants; although you would never know it. It's French-themed menu features the best of local produce; with all items prepared freshly in-house. All of the staff members taste the menu and daily specials alongside wines recommended by their sommelier; so that each can make personal recommendations to customers.
For starters we had fresh scallops and prawns cooked to perfection, and for our main course, we had their fillet steak (£17.50) sourced from a local farm, and served with a choice of sauces and frites. The steak really is the best we have ever eaten. It's juiciness, flavour and tenderness is out of this world.
They also have an excellent selection of breads to compliment the dishes on their menu.
Cote's desserts are to die for. Their chocolate fondant (£4.95) is soft and delightfully rich; as is their signature creme brulee (£5.25). It is definitely well worth a visit!
Rather a hidden gem in Birmingham is the Staying Cool apartments that occupy the top few floors of The Rotunda building (http://www.stayingcool.com). Staying in a 'Mini Apartment' on the 19th floor, we had an unrivaled view of the city.
The apartments are super-sleek, and 60s-themed. Each contains all the home comforts guests could desire; plus some extra gadgets such as a juicer with fresh oranges, an Apple mac and a cappuccino maker.
Eating breakfast at the table by the floor to ceiling windows is a real treat! It is important to mention, however, that the windows do open fully, and that the only thing protecting you from the streets many floors below is a waist height glass barrier- so do not bring any children or pets!
Staying Cool's bathrooms contain soft white robes for use during your stay; and their own range of shampoos, shower gels and body lotions (with fresh herbal ingredients) will leave you fully refreshed after a morning power shower or fully relaxed for a perfect night's sleep.

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